Philadelphia fans might like this: in his hockey days, new Eagle Danny Watkins was known as something of a goon.
“I was a defenseman, but in the later half of my career I was, the, I don’t know what the word is, I was the designated goon, I suppose you could say,” Watkins said, drawing laughter.
His father, Todd, spent a long time talking to reporters about his son’s days playing hockey as he grew up in British Columbia. He described a defenseman who laid out his opponents – even his local friends – and was constantly being whistled for roughing, not because he was dirty, but because he was so big that every hit crushed the other guys.
“Always been strong,” Todd Watkins said, wearing a new Eagles hat.
But Danny Watkins also took some skill from hockey – he and his father talked about how he carried over his lateral movement and “knee-bend” from skating backwards -- onto the football field, even as a 22-year old playing his first game, two weeks after his first ever football practice.
"The move, it came natural for him," Todd Watkins said, adding that defending a charging forward in hockey is similar to trying to stop a pass rusher. "It came fast and natural."
Danny Watkins, now 26, was earnest and serious. In our first chance to see him in person and get a sense of his personality, he was polite, respectful, though not extremely revealing (understandable for a guy facing a crowd of reporters he doesn’t know in a city he has never visited before).
Asked about meeting Michael Vick today he said they “talked about getting some work done.”
Later Watkins described how living in the real world – working a 40-hour work week – gave him perspective that maybe some other athletes don’t have. He said he didn’t consider himself any different than the group of reporters and Eagles staff with him in the room.
“I’m going to bring my work boots and hard hat and come in and be working to try and contribute right away,” Watkins said.